Every food you eat, and every beverage you consume; all contribute to more than having our body function optimally — they also affect our chemical balance.
It is, however, easy to confuse which foods are healthy and which ones aren’t. In our previous blog, we talked about the need for a balanced diet and the five food groups you should obtain healthy foods from.
What we didn’t delve into, are the foods one is generally supposed to avoid. Not every food you consume is a healthy choice. Some can cause inflammation whereas others can make your sugars spike — particularly in processed foods.
The majority of the foods we have today can make it hard for one to eat healthily. Some foods, which were initially healthy choices have been transformed into foods containing toxic substances if not reared in an unhealthy way.
Moreover, during the processing, many additives including chemicals, sugars, preservatives, food colors, and more are added making it hard for our bodies to digest and extract the much-needed nutrients.
Limiting these foods should be a top consideration if one is to eat healthily. Healthy foods give you more energy, lessen pain and inflammation, and they give you the ability to heal quicker.
This piece, therefore, helps you know foods that are bad for you, while giving you better alternatives wherever necessary.
It is worth noting, however, that these foods can be consumed in moderation without serious or permanent damage to one’s health.
Here is a list of popular foods that you should avoid entirely or minimize their intake if you are seeking to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
a) Processed Meat
Natural or unprocessed meat is healthy and nutritious, but the same cannot be said for the meats you source from your supermarkets and grocery stores. These meats are mostly processed.
Processed meats have been, time and again, linked to different types of diseases such as colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Buy your meat including bacon, pepperoni, and sausages from the local butcher. Most of them do not add any unhealthy ingredients or preservatives.
b) Sweetened Cereals, Refined Grains, or Anything with Added Sugars
While breakfast cereals are a healthy way to kick-start the day, sweetened ones such as wheat, oats, rice, and corn are a no. During refinement, these cereals are roasted, flaked, shredded, pulped, and rolled to make them more friendly while eating. Sugar is also added, and this gives processed cereals a downside.
It is, therefore, a wise choice to avoid foods that contain these sugars or refined grains and artificial trans fats. The ingredients are popular in most diets and they make some of the unhealthiest meals ever. Always read the labels of these food products before buying them.
GO with breakfast cereals high in fiber, and contains little to no added sugars. Even better, make your breakfast from scratch! And while at it, aim for nutrient-dense, whole foods such as whole grains and fresh fruits.
c) Drinks with Added Sugar
One of the most detrimental ingredients in today’s diet is added sugar. Of course, there are some sugars sources that are less harmful, but sugary beverages, in particular, are the worst.
Sure, they taste sweet, but the problem is, that your brain doesn’t consider them as food since they are liquid calories. Added sugars may make you increase your calorie intake drastically.
It gets worse, if consumed in large quantities, sugary drinks can elevate insulin resistance which, according to some studies, is linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Other studies have also linked it to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to some people, the most fattening beverages are sugary drinks – and drinking them in large amounts may contribute to obesity or undesired or unhealthy weight gain.
If you find it difficult to entirely stop taking sugary drinks or limiting their intake, there are alternatives that you can choose.
Opt for drinks such as tea, coffee, soda water, or water. You can make a cocktail of some sort by adding a slice of lemon for flavors.
d) White bread, Pastries, Cake, and Cookies
Never consume white bread in large amounts. Of course, its impact on your health may not be immediately visible but they remain unhealthy foods, especially since they are made from refined wheat. Refined wheat is low in dietary fiber as well as other essential nutrients that the body needs.
Heavy consumption of this food product may lead to spikes in blood sugar.
While at it, minimize your intake of pastries, cookies, and cakes. They are harmful if eaten in excess and most packaged versions contained refined wheat flour, added sugars, and sometimes unhealthy trans fats.
Like sugary drinks, they may be tasty, but they contain copious amounts of calories, a plethora of preservatives, and almost no essential nutrients.
If you must have bread, choose Ezekiel bread or whole-grain bread. Consequently, instead of eliminating dessert from your meals, fresh fruits, dark chocolate or Greek yogurt makes better choices. can’t stay away from dessert, spring for Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or dark chocolate.
e) Fruit Juice and High-Calorie Coffee Beverages
There’s a popular misconception that fruit juice is healthy. However, it’s just as bad as soda. While these juices may contain antioxidants and vitamins, they also come with lots of liquid sugars. These sugars are sometimes even more than what’s contained in other sugary drinks such as Coke or Pepsi.
There are lots of benefits associated with having coffee. This beverage is packed with antioxidants, which are helpful to your body.
In fact, people who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing serious illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. But despite these obvious benefits, high-calorie coffee may contain additives, added sugars, creamers, and syrups which may harm your health.
Pomegranate and blueberry juices are healthier alternatives. But they should be utilized as occasional supplements. Also, go with a plain cup of Joe’s instead of high-calorie coffee. If you like it frothy, you can add a little full-fat cream.
f) Pizza, Potato Chips, French Fries, and Most Fast-Food Meals
Pizza is one of the unhealthiest foods you can easily find today. Apart from being high in calories, most pizzas are made from overly processed meat and highly refined dough.
Other fast-food meals such as fries, burgers, potato chips, and hotdogs, among others are produced in bulk but contain almost no nutrients.
Despite their affordability and sweetness, they make you more vulnerable to certain diseases, not to mention gaining unexpected weight.
It is highly commendable that you watch out, especially, for fried items. Sure, French fries and potato chips might be the tastiest meals around, but you should do well to remember that they are high in calories and can be easily eaten in excess.
Some studies have linked French fries and potato chips to weight gain. Apart from this risk, these two foods may contain lots of acrylamides, which form when potatoes are roasted, baked, or fried – they are carcinogenic substances. Also, avoid low-carb junk foods.
For those who replace their meals with gluten-free junk food, you are doing it wrong. These replacements are also high in sugar and refined grains.
They may elevate your body’s sugar levels giving you problems such as the risk of developing diabetes. They are also low in nutrients.
Have you tried some homemade pizzas? They are wholesome with healthy ingredients. Some restaurants also make these kinds of pizzas.
Also, although it may be difficult for some people, try to consume boiled potatoes instead of fried ones.
Similarly, if you want gluten-free foods, choose those that occur naturally, which include animal foods and unprocessed plants.
g) Any Food that’s Fried, Grilled, or Broiled
These cooking methods are unhealthy. Not only do they strip your ingredients of the essential nutrients, but they also give rise to unhealthy chemical compounds that form when subjected to high heat.
Some of these unhealthy compounds include heterocyclic amines, oxysterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), acrylamides, acrolein, and advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
Most of these compounds are associated with certain types of cancer and heart disease.
While preparing your foods, try to get used to mild methods such as stewing, steaming, blanching, and boiling.
h) Low-Fat Yogurt
Yogurt contains useful bacteria. The prebiotics that comes with them is incredibly healthy for our bodies. However, the majority of yogurts you find in grocery stores are bad for your health.
These products are low in fat and are packed with lots of added sugars to compensate for the flavor. In a nutshell, this process replaces the healthy natural fats it contains with a harmful ingredient.
When they’re pasteurized, the useful bacteria initially contained is killed.
Have regular yogurt which contains full fats. Whenever possible, purchase a variety of them from grass-fed cows.
i) Ice cream and Candy Bars
Both of these products are loaded with added sugar. Ice cream, for instance, is high in calories and is easy to overeat, which could cause weight problems. This especially happens when you consume it as dessert – you’re piling it on top of your normal calorie intake.
Candy bars, on the other hand, apart from the sugars, are made from refined wheat flour, have processed fats, and are quite low in essential nutrients. They also often leave you hungry, making you want to eat more.
Make your own ice cream. It is easy to do so using fresh fruit and less sugar. Instead of candy bars, have fruit, or dark chocolate. They will suffice in satisfying your craving.
j) Most Processed Foods
There is a long list of processed foods that you should avoid to ensure that your healthy eating is sustained. Apart from processed meats, processed cheese, especially when overconsumed, is also a bad choice.
Done in moderation, cheese is healthy. It comes loaded with essential nutrients, and a single slice can contain as many nutrients as a glass of milk. This, however, applies to regular cheese.
Processed cheese contains filler ingredients made to look exactly like real cheese in terms of color, taste, and texture. Always read the labels when you are buying cheese to confirm that it contains dairy products.
Similarly, always aim to avoid most processed foods to keep your weight in check, and healthy. These foods are mostly made with lots of added sugars and excess salt. This could cause problems in your body.
Try real cheese, it is equally good. Some of the healthy types include feta, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. There are also some vegan cheeses that you can try. As for processed foods, always strive for whole foods instead.
The easiest way to keep your weight in check, and reduce inflammations and uncalled-for pains, is to avoid the aforementioned foods. Foods that are processed and those that contain large amounts of added sugar are especially bad for your health.
Focus on eating whole foods to always remain healthy and energetic. Also, it helps to practice mindfulness in your meal choices to help you be more aware of what you are eating.
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